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God tells me to copy and paste, so you can't stop me. -- Kate

"You know, I could run for governor, but I'm basically a media creation. I've never done anything. I've worked for my dad. I worked in the oil business ..." -- G.W. Bush

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use. -- Galileo Galilei

Thursday, October 28, 2004

I'm back from vacationing in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Minnesota, the Mall of America, Miineapolis, and St. Paul.

I surfed for a few minutes and found this story. I am always amazed at what people have to do to be able to get a job, or register to vote or even to register with Blogger to start your own blog and how little there is to becoming a parent.


Mom Accused Of Letting Her Toddler Smoke Marijuana
BILLINGS, Montana (AP) -- A Montana woman is accused of letting her 18-month-old daughter smoke marijuana.

Jessica Durham pleaded innocent in U-S District Court in Billings.

After a one-day trial yesterday, the judge said he would consider written arguments and rule later.

The judge said he hasn't seen a case like this.

According to court documents, a friend of the defendant took photos of the toddler smoking a bong pipe.

The friend testified that Durham told her she let her daughter smoke marijuana because the girl wasn't eating or sleeping enough.


On the vacation side of things, I got to see Mary Tyler Moore's house, the spot where she threw her hat up in the air at the beginning of the show and even a highway sign that looked just like the opening credits.

Mall of America, very BIG. Many many stores. Lots of exercise. Lots of lakes. The weather was cloudy and a bit wet but around 60 every day so I can't complain too much.

Got there on Thursday and Kerry was at the Metrodome that night. By the time I saw that he was going to be there, there was already a line around the stadium to get in so I didn't even try it. I didn't know how to get there so I probably would have missed everything anyway. Came back Tuesday afternoon.

I'm very annoyed that I missed Kerry and Clinton at Love Park right here at home. I saw the pictures of the crowd, I know I never would have gotten anywhere near anything but it would have been worth a try. Somebody said there was 30,000 but it sure looked more packed than that. The crowd behind the stage was maybe 30,000.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

It's kind of funny that Tucker Carlson complained that Jon Stewart was not being funny. Maybe I'm wrong, I thought Jon was a guest invited for an interview not to amuse the hosts of Crossfire. Also kind of funny, I thought Stewart was pretty damned funny. I saw about the last 10 minutes and had a good laugh.

No Jokes or Spin. It's Time (Gasp) to Talk.
By ALESSANDRA STANLEY
Published: October 20, 2004
There is nothing more painful than watching a comedian turn self-righteous. Unless of course, the comedian is lashing out at smug and self-serving television-news personalities. Jon Stewart could not resist a last dig at CNN's "Crossfire" during his monologue on Comedy Central on Monday night . "They said I wasn't being funny," the star of "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" said, rolling his eyes expressively. "And I said to them: 'I know that. But tomorrow I will go back to being funny," Mr. Stewart said, adding that their show would still be bad, although he used a more vulgar expression.

And that is why his surprise attack on the hosts of CNN's "Crossfire" was so satisfying last Friday. Exchanging his usual goofy teasing for withering contempt, he told Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson that they were partisan hacks and that their pro-wrestling approach to political discourse was "hurting America." (He also used an epithet for the male reproductive organ to describe Mr. Carlson.)

Real anger is as rare on television as real discussion. Presidential candidates no longer address each other directly in debates. Guests on the "Tonight" show or "Oprah" are scripted monologuists who pitch their latest projects and humor the host. It has been decades since talk-show guests conversed with one another, yet there was a time when famous people held long and at times legendarily hostile discussions (Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. on ABC in 1968, Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellman on "The Dick Cavett Show" in 1980).

Nowadays, live television meltdowns seem to be pathological, not political - Janet Jackson baring a breast during the Super Bowl or Farrah Fawcett babbling incoherently to David Letterman.

The fuming partisan rants on Fox News or "Real Time With Bill Maher" are aimed at the converted. And celebrities, like politicians, stay on message and stick to talking points, which may help explain the popularity of "Celebrity Poker" - it gives viewers a rare, unfiltered glimpse of stars' real personalities as they handle a bad hand or a humiliating bluff.

Mr. Stewart's frankness was a cool, startling, rational version of Senator Zell Miller's loony excoriation ("Get out of my face") to Chris Matthews of MSNBC during the Republican convention.

The transcript of Friday's "Crossfire," and the blog commentary about it, popped up all over the Internet this weekend. Mr. Stewart's Howard Beal (of "Network") outburst stood out because he said what a lot of viewers feel helpless to correct: that news programs, particularly on cable, have become echo chambers for political attacks, amplifying the noise instead of parsing the misinformation. Whether the issue is Swift boat ads or Bill O'Reilly's sexual harassment suit, shows like "Crossfire" or "Hardball" provide gladiator-style infotainment as journalists clownishly seek to amuse or rile viewers, not inform them.

When Mr. Carlson took the offense, charging that Mr. Stewart had no right to complain since he had asked Senator John Kerry softball questions on "The Daily Show," Mr. Stewart looked genuinely appalled. "I didn't realize - and maybe this explains quite a bit - that the news organizations look to Comedy Central for their cues on integrity." When Mr. Carlson continued to argue, Mr. Stewart shut him down hard. "You are on CNN," he said. "The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls."

All late-night talk-show hosts make jokes about politicians. What distinguishes Mr. Stewart from Jay Leno and David Letterman is that the Comedy Central star mocks the entire political process, boring in tightly on the lockstep thinking and complacency of the parties and the media as well as the candidates. More than other television analysts and commentators, he and his writers put a spotlight on the inanities and bland hypocrisies that go mostly unnoticed in the average news cycle.

Mr. Stewart is very funny, but it is the vein of "a plague on both your houses" indignation that has made his show a cult favorite: many younger voters are turning to the "The Daily Show" for their news analysis, and are better served there than on much of what purports to be real news on cable.

And of course it was fun just to see television pundits who think they are part of the same media version of the Algonquin Round Table as Mr. Stewart lose their cool when he tore off the tablecloth and shattered the plates. "Wait,'' Mr. Carlson said querulously. "I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny." Mr. Stewart was funny. And it was at their expense.

I don't know if CNN is just gutless or lazy. It really annoys me that they don't even bother to try to transcribe the parts where people are talking over each other. Most of the time it's very clear and there's no reason not to transcribe it as near as I can tell. Crosstalk, too much crosstalk not enough transcribing.

Crossfire with guest Jon Stewart

Back to yesterday's draft theme
CARLSON:
It's a lot easier just to make things up. And so John Kerry has decided to do just that. In an interview with "The Des Moines Register" yesterday, Kerry warned that there is -- quote -- "a great potential that Americans will be drafted into the armed forces if Bush is reelected president." This is a total crock, as Kerry himself knows well. Virtually no one favors returning to the draft.

Bush is against it. Congress is against it. The Pentagon is completely against it. It is not happening now or anywhere in the near future. Again, John Kerry knows this very well, and yet he pretends otherwise in order to scare college students into voting for him. And they probably will vote for him, but it's still pretty dishonorable.
Yes, Tuck, we know that everyone and their little brother doesn't favor a draft, that doesn't mean there won't be a draft; political suicide and all that. Not wanting and not needing are two different things. In the winter, I don't want to pay for heat but I sure as heck need to pay for it if I want to get through the winter. This is just another case of Bush telling people what they want to hear. Could any politician in office be honest about the draft topic? I don't think so.

The services are stretched thin. Stop loss orders are helping to keep the levels where they are. Knowing about the stop-loss is a deterrent to an all volunteer military. When a potential volunteer hears they may be kept in the service indefinitely plenty of people will say they don't want to volunteer for that kind of commitment. The people needed for the military are going to have to come from somewhere if there aren't enough volunteers, whether they; Bush, Congress, the Pentagon, a new president, or everybody and their little brother, like it or not.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

My brother is fond of saying, “If wishes were horses, poor men would ride.”

The Bush people have been saying for I don’t know how long, that Kerry says what people want to hear. Don’t all politicians campaign that way?

I don’t know why people, including me, seem to forget that during every campaign politicians say what will get them elected not necessarily what they will do. Let’s face it, they don’t always know what they will do until they’re in office and really see the big picture including the stuff the public never sees.

By the way, if you do a search on the words Bush and draft you'll find there are more links to why there will be a draft than how the governmant can avoid a draft.

“If wishes were horses, poor men would ride.” During presidential campaigns, we get a lot of wishes but end up with a ton of manure.

I just can’t stop copying and pasting Krugman.

Feeling the Draft

By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: October 19, 2004
Those who are worrying about a revived draft are in the same position as those who worried about a return to budget deficits four years ago, when President Bush began pushing through his program of tax cuts. Back then he insisted that he wouldn't drive the budget into deficit - but those who looked at the facts strongly suspected otherwise. Now he insists that he won't revive the draft. But the facts suggest that he will.

There were two reasons some of us never believed Mr. Bush's budget promises. First, his claims that his tax cuts were affordable rested on patently unrealistic budget projections. Second, his broader policy goals, including the partial privatization of Social Security - which is clearly on his agenda for a second term - would involve large costs that were not included even in those unrealistic projections. This led to the justified suspicion that his election-year promises notwithstanding, Mr. Bush would preside over a return to budget deficits.

It's exactly the same when it comes to the draft. Mr. Bush's claim that we don't need any expansion in our military is patently unrealistic; it ignores the severe stress our Army is already under. And the experience in Iraq shows that pursuing his broader foreign policy doctrine - the "Bush doctrine" of pre-emptive war - would require much larger military forces than we now have.

This leads to the justified suspicion that after the election, Mr. Bush will seek a large expansion in our military, quite possibly through a return of the draft.

Mr. Bush's assurances that this won't happen are based on a denial of reality. Last week, the Republican National Committee sent an angry, threatening letter to Rock the Vote, an organization that has been using the draft issue to mobilize young voters. "This urban myth regarding a draft has been thoroughly debunked," the letter declared, and quoted Mr. Bush: "We don't need the draft. Look, the all-volunteer Army is working."

In fact, the all-volunteer Army is under severe stress. A study commissioned by Donald Rumsfeld arrived at the same conclusion as every independent study: the U.S. has "inadequate total numbers" of troops to sustain operations at the current pace. In Iraq, the lack of sufficient soldiers to protect supply convoys, let alone pacify the country, is the root cause of incidents like the case of the reservists who refused to go on what they described as a "suicide mission."

Commanders in Iraq have asked for more troops (ignore the administration's denials) - but there are no more troops to send. The manpower shortage is so severe that training units like the famous Black Horse Regiment, which specializes in teaching other units the ways of battle, are being sent into combat. As the military expert Phillip Carter says, "This is like eating your seed corn."

Anyway, do we even have an all-volunteer Army at this point? Thousands of reservists and National Guard members are no longer serving voluntarily: they have been kept in the military past their agreed terms of enlistment by "stop loss" orders.

The administration's strategy of denial in the face of these realities was illustrated by a revealing moment during the second presidential debate. After Senator John Kerry described the stop-loss policy as a "backdoor draft," Charles Gibson, the moderator, tried to get a follow-up response from President Bush: "And with reservists being held on duty --"

At that point Mr. Bush cut Mr. Gibson off and changed the subject from the plight of the reservists to the honor of our Polish allies, ending what he obviously viewed as a dangerous line of questioning.

And during the third debate, Mr. Bush tried to minimize the issue, saying that the reservists being sent to Iraq "didn't view their service as a backdoor draft. They viewed their service as an opportunity to serve their country." In that case, why are they being forced, rather than asked, to continue that service?

The reality is that the Iraq war, which was intended to demonstrate the feasibility of the Bush doctrine, has pushed the U.S. military beyond its limits. Yet there is no sign that Mr. Bush has been chastened. By all accounts, in a second term the architects of that doctrine, like Paul Wolfowitz, would be promoted, not replaced. The only way this makes sense is if Mr. Bush is prepared to seek a much larger Army - and that means reviving the draft.

Read my lips, just don’t read the memos.

Let’s see, yesterday Bush ‘accidently’ said, "We will not have an all-volunteer army."

Today we read about a memo saying that there is a just-in-case plan for a draft of medical professionals. Hhmmm, what to think, what to think.


U.S. Has Contingency Plans for a Draft of Medical Workers

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 - The Selective Service has been updating its contingency plans for a draft of doctors, nurses and other health care workers in case of a national emergency that overwhelms the military's medical corps.

In a confidential report this summer, a contractor hired by the agency described how such a draft might work, how to secure compliance and how to mold public opinion and communicate with health care professionals, whose lives could be disrupted.
. . .

President Bush has flatly declared that there will be no draft, but Senator John Kerry has suggested that this is a possibility if Mr. Bush is re-elected.
. . .

The Selective Service does not decide whether a draft will occur. It would carry out the mechanics only if the president and Congress authorized a draft.
. . .

In a recent article in The Wisconsin Medical Journal, published by the state medical society, Col. Roger A. Lalich, a senior physician in the Army National Guard, said: "It appears that a general draft is not likely to occur. A physician draft is the most likely conscription into the military in the near future."

Since 2003, the Selective Service has said it is shifting its preparations for a draft in a national crisis toward narrow sectors of specialists, including medical personnel.

Colonel Lalich, citing Selective Service memorandums on the subject, said the Defense Department had indicated that "a conventional draft of untrained manpower is not necessary for the war on terrorism." But, he said, "the Department of Defense has stated that what most likely will be needed is a 'special skills draft,' " including care workers in particular.
. . .
President Bush and Mr. Kerry have said they oppose a draft. "Forget all this talk about a draft," Mr. Bush said at the second presidential debate, on Oct. 8 in St. Louis. "We're not going to have a draft so long as I'm the president."

Near as I can tell, there will be a draft regardless of who is president. Even Bush says the war may last another10 to 15 years. Somewhere along the line volunteers are going to stop volunteering and as Bush said, “We will not have an all-volunteer army.” I figure that he’ll be right about no draft during his presidency if he doesn’t win in November.

Friday, October 15, 2004


You know, the internet is a wonderful thing. People say stupid or annoying things and you can usually find audio, video or at least a transcript of it the next day.

I had Crossfire on yesterday, Tucker Carlson said he was reading from a page in the Kerry Edwards Colorado Election Day Manual.

Un-freakin’ believable! The nitwit kept saying that the page said that the Democratic Party in Colorado was promoting fabricating stories of Republican intimidation. He obviously didn’t read the memo The only intimidation involved would be to try to intimidate Repuglicans -- to stop them from continuing their intimidation practices.

No one would answer him about what he was “basically” saying about the manual. I kept wanting someone to ask him to read it word for word since he seemed to be holding it in his hand. Curiously, he didn’t want to share the damaging evidence. If anyone with a brain had read it they would have laughed at him.


Crossfire transcript for 14 Oct 2004.
CARLSON: . . .
But since you are an actual representative of the campaign, I can't resist asking you about it. There's floating around the Internet what appears to be a page from an Election Day manual put out by the DNC for Colorado Democrats, volunteers and staffers for the Kerry campaign that says, basically, you should invent instances for voters...

DEVINE: Basically it says that?

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER) CARLSON: If no signs of intimidation techniques -- if no signs of intimidation techniques have emerged yet, launch a preemptive strike. Accuse Republicans of preventing black and Hispanic voters from getting to the polls.

DEVINE: That's what it says? It says that?

CARLSON: Yes, that is exactly what it says. I'll read it right there. Issue a press release accusing them of this. Review the Republican tactics used in the past. Quote a party or minority or civil rights leader as denouncing the tactic.

CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: This is encouraging your staffers to make up, in a racially divisive way, things that never happened and use those nonexistent events to whip minority voters into a frenzy. This is wrong.

DEVINE: Tucker, what happened in 2000 will never happen again. We're going to fight for every vote across this country.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

DEVINE: We're going to make sure that people vote. We're going to make sure particularly people of color are not turned away from voting places.

And you know what? If we have to fight them in every precinct, fight them in every corner, we will.

CARLSON: My friend, come back to reality.

DEVINE: That's what is going to happen.

CARLSON: We're not refighting 2000 here.

(CROSSTALK)

DEVINE: No, let me tell you something. It's not going to happen.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I know. Never again. I know.

DEVINE: Yes, you better believe it.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: But I'm asking you about something very specific.

DEVINE: Right.

CARLSON: And that is the allegation, assuming this is true, and you seem to concede that it is. DEVINE: Well, I don't know if it is true. I haven't seen it.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Assuming that it is, that the Democratic National Committee is encouraging its own staffers to make things up and thereby scare people into believing the Republicans are racist, you don't -- you can't say this is wrong? Come on.

DEVINE: Tucker, we don't have to make it up, OK? It is happening all across the country.

CARLSON: Then why are they encouraging them to make it up?

(CROSSTALK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: We're filing federal cases in Ohio, OK? This has been going on. There's a pattern and practice of this going on. And I'll tell you what. It's not going to happen again.

(CROSSTALK)

DEVINE: And this is the Republicans' worst nightmare, the worst nightmare of the Republicans. Everybody in this country is going to actually vote in this election, OK?

LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

MCCOLLUM: And we're going to win it fair and square.

DEVINE: Yes, good luck.

It has just dawned on me that if this is the worst thing the Repugs can find about the Dems in Colorado then we may just be in for an honest election this year in Colorado, at least on the Dem side of the fence.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Gee, I wonder if this is an indication of which candidate is better for the buying public.
Investors' tendency to react to negative events and ignore positive ones reflects prolonged adverse sentiment toward drug stocks, which have underperformed the broad market since February. That was around the time that Senator John Kerry consolidated his grip on the Democratic presidential nomination, analysts point out. They note that many investors fear that if Mr. Kerry wins in November, prices of prescription drugs may rise at lower rates than in recent years, or perhaps even decline, dealing a significant blow to drug makers' profitability.
. . .

"Without question, large-cap pharma is one of the groups likely to see the most intense regulatory pressure should the presidency change hands," Jami Rubin, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, said in a report on the sector, articulating Wall Street's fears. "The Democratic Party continues to seek greater government involvement in the health care system and is expected to hasten a move toward price controls on prescription drugs if given the political power to do so."

One Eye on Drug Stocks, the Other on Election Day

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Here is yet another reason why we need a new administration.

Ignorance Isn't Strength

By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: October 8, 2004
I first used the word "Orwellian" to describe the Bush team in October 2000. Even then it was obvious that George W. Bush surrounds himself with people who insist that up is down, and ignorance is strength. But the full costs of his denial of reality are only now becoming clear.

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have an unparalleled ability to insulate themselves from inconvenient facts. They lead a party that controls all three branches of government, and face news media that in some cases are partisan supporters, and in other cases are reluctant to state plainly that officials aren't telling the truth. They also still enjoy the residue of the faith placed in them after 9/11.

This has allowed them to engage in what Orwell called "reality control." In the world according to the Bush administration, our leaders are infallible, and their policies always succeed. If the facts don't fit that assumption, they just deny the facts.

As a political strategy, reality control has worked very well. But as a strategy for governing, it has led to predictable disaster. When leaders live in an invented reality, they do a bad job of dealing with real reality.

In the last few days we've seen some impressive demonstrations of reality control at work. During the debate on Tuesday, Mr. Cheney insisted that "I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11." After the release of the Duelfer report, which shows that Saddam's weapons capabilities were deteriorating, not advancing, at the time of the invasion, Mr. Cheney declared that the report proved that "delay, defer, wait wasn't an option."

From a political point of view, such exercises in denial have been very successful. For example, the Bush administration has managed to convince many people that its tax cuts, which go primarily to the wealthiest few percent of the population, are populist measures benefiting middle-class families and small businesses. (Under the administration's definition, anyone with "business income" - a group that includes Dick Cheney and George Bush - is a struggling small-business owner.)

The administration has also managed to convince at least some people that its economic record, which includes the worst employment performance in 70 years, is a great success, and that the economy is "strong and getting stronger." (The data to be released today, which are expected to improve the numbers a bit, won't change the basic picture of a dismal four years.)

Officials have even managed to convince many people that they are moving forward on environmental policy. They boast of their "Clear Skies" plan even as the inspector general of the E.P.A. declares that the enforcement of existing air-quality rules has collapsed.

But the political ability of the Bush administration to deny reality - to live in an invented world in which everything is the way officials want it to be - has led to an ongoing disaster in Iraq and looming disaster elsewhere.

How did the occupation of Iraq go so wrong? (The security situation has deteriorated to the point where there are no safe places: a bomb was discovered on Tuesday in front of a popular restaurant inside the Green Zone.)

The insulation of officials from reality is central to the story. They wanted to believe Ahmad Chalabi's promises that we'd be welcomed with flowers; nobody could tell them different. They wanted to believe - months after everyone outside the administration realized that we were facing a large, dangerous insurgency and needed more troops - that the attackers were a handful of foreign terrorists and Baathist dead-enders; nobody could tell them different.

Why did the economy perform so badly? Long after it was obvious to everyone outside the administration that the tax-cut strategy wasn't an effective way of creating jobs, administration officials kept promising huge job gains, any day now. Nobody could tell them different.

Why has the pursuit of terrorists been so unsuccessful? It has been obvious for years that John Ashcroft isn't just scary; he's also scarily incompetent. But inside the administration, he's considered the man for the job - and nobody can say different.

The point is that in the real world, as opposed to the political world, ignorance isn't strength. A leader who has the political power to pretend that he's infallible, and uses that power to avoid ever admitting mistakes, eventually makes mistakes so large that they can't be covered up. And that's what's happening to Mr. Bush.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Another reason why we need a new administration.

A Very Bad Deal
Published: October 8, 2004
In the days of fear following the 9/11 attacks, Congress gave the government new powers to track down terrorists. Most Americans approved, expecting that, at worst, they were trading minor infringements of civil liberties for well-planned and well-executed operations that would make us safer. Instead we got a mounting pile of bungled operations, ranging from merely inept to scandalously abusive, and military prisons filled with Afghans, Iraqis and other Muslims who had committed no real offenses.

Our investigators, sent after dangerous terrorists, came back with a motley crew of hapless innocents and people who had said and done stupid things but were hardly a threat to the nation's security. Some cases were Keystone Kops capers, like the grounding of a trans-Atlantic flight so the authorities could nab the former pop singer Cat Stevens, now a Muslim named Yusuf Islam, who was on the federal watch list. Others were more serious, like the terrible miscarriage of justice, reported yesterday in The Times, by top Justice Department officials in moving against four Middle Eastern immigrants. Three of them were convicted and imprisoned - two on terrorism charges - until the government was forced to repudiate its own case.

Brandon Mayfield, an Oregon lawyer who was imprisoned for two weeks after the F.B.I. botched a fingerprint match and accused him of complicity in the Madrid railroad bombings, is suing to have parts of the Patriot Act overturned. Mr. Mayfield says federal agents invaded his home secretly, tapped his phone and seized some of his family's belongings. His name was among 20 produced by a computerized fingerprint comparison. He was the only one arrested, and Mr. Mayfield says he was singled out because he is a Muslim.

Confidence in the Justice Department's judgment and sense of proportion has been undermined by the government's tendency to make a huge deal out of arrests that turn out to involve unimportant people with bad attitudes but no ability - or even any apparent will - to do anything dangerous. In November, a Somali citizen was imprisoned in Columbus, Ohio, for supposedly talking about blowing up a shopping mall. There was no evidence of any confederates or weapons, or even a plot, but people in Ohio were treated to days of debate about whether it was safe to go shopping anymore.

The government managed to get six young Arab-Americans from Lackawanna, N.Y., who had spent time at training camps in Afghanistan, to plead guilty to terrorism charges and accept long prison terms last year. But that very thin case is a far cry from what Mr. Bush advertised in his 2003 State of the Union speech: "We've broken Al Qaeda cells in Hamburg, Milan, Madrid, London, Paris, as well as Buffalo, N.Y."

After 9/11 Mr. Bush gave himself the power to declare anyone, including American citizens, an "enemy combatant" and then jail such people indefinitely without charges or due process. The government held Yaser Hamdi, a U.S. citizen who grew up in Saudi Arabia and was captured in Afghanistan, in solitary confinement for two years. Without ever demonstrating that their prisoner had any connection to terrorism, officials recently offered Mr. Hamdi a chance to be deported to Saudi Arabia if he stayed there for at least five years, renounced his citizenship and agreed to report contacts with potential terrorists. At last word, the Saudi government was refusing to join this absurd arrangement.

The president used the "enemy combatant" rule to jail hundreds of supposed members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban at the military prison in Guantánamo Bay, and would not submit his judgments to public scrutiny until the Supreme Court ordered it. It turns out that the supposedly dangerous terrorists were for the most part neither terrorists nor dangerous. This week, the deputy commander of that military prison said that most of those 550 prisoners had said nothing of value - suggesting that they probably should never have been held - and would be released. "Most of these guys weren't fighting," the officer, Brig. Gen. Martin Lucenti, told The Financial Times. "They were running."

Americans are serious about protecting the nation from terrorist plots. Federal officials say they have made progress in many important investigations, any one of which may turn out to be the critical case that prevents deadly violence. We hope that's true. But our confidence isn't bolstered by the hyping of unimportant arrests or the abuse of the rights of people whose only crime appears to be their religious faith.

We're certain to hear Mr. Bush call many times before Nov. 2 for the Patriot Act to be renewed. Republicans in the House are trying to add expansions of the act to the intelligence reform bill. But everything we've learned since Sept. 11, 2001, shows that this is a time to review, revise and provide more oversight over the extraordinary powers of federal authorities, not to expand them.

I read this article about Ralph Nader’s attempts to get on state ballots as a presidential candidate, particularly in PA. It seems to me that he needs to just walk away this year. Maybe I’d think differently if it was a different year, 4 years ago, 4 years from now.

The big reason I think he needs to walk away is that he just doesn’t have his campaign in gear. It just doesn’t seem like he’s trying this year. He’s been scrambling for petition signatures all over the place. In one state an independent group got signatures for him and he didn’t want them then he wanted them when his party couldn’t get enough. He just doesn’t seem to have his own supporters working for him.

In Pennsylvania, candidates had from mid-February to Aug. 2 to collect signatures, but when Dan Martino, the state campaign coordinator, took his job on June 18, he testified, the campaign had collected only 1,500.
. . .
In a sampling done in late August, Mr. Nader's lawyers acknowledged that 70 percent of the Philadelphia signatures were flawed - that voters were not registered or did not exist. About the same percentage have proved invalid in court.

It’s wrong too that the Republicans are working for him. It’s wrong that he’s accepting their help. This isn’t the way it’s supposed to work. (My father for some stupid reason thinks it wrong that the Democrats are trying to block the Republican’s games but it doesn’t seem to bother him that the Repugs are playing games in the first place. Yes, he wants the annoying Bush to win. That seems to be the only reason to put Nader on the ballot, Bush can’t win in a head to head match, he needs someone to take away Democratic votes.)

I know Nader’s always been the underdog and probably will never make it to the White House but this is America and he’s got the right to try. I just want him to give it up this year. He needs to make a statement saying he’s throwing his support to one side or the other and that he wants his supporters to vote accordingly. He needs to just give it up this year. Next year he can start again, early. He can start raising money the way Dean did on the internet. He can start mobilizing his supporters early on so they can get the signatures they need. Ralph Nader just needs to get his act together early but walk away now.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Go here for volcanocam of Mount St Helens.

Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam

I need to do something about putting pictures on this page. The current picture (it will change when you click on the link) is just grey. An hour ago you could see a bit of steam coming out and you could see most of the mountain. Now, 8:59 Pacific time, it’s just grey.



This is NOT a Philly cheesesteak. Stephen Starr is nuts.

Restaurant serves $100 Philly cheesesteak
Served with a small bottle of champagne, Barclay Prime's cheesesteak is made of sliced Kobe beef, melted Taleggio cheese, shaved truffles, sauteed foie gras, caramelized onions and heirloom shaved tomatoes on a homemade brioche roll brushed with truffle butter and squirted with homemade mustard.

Not that I like tomato on my steak sandwich but “shaved tomato?” His whole profit must ride on that tomato.

Friday, October 01, 2004

My take on the debate.

Why could the President of the United States NOT STAND UP STRAIGHT FOR 90 MINUTES! I sure hope mom and dad called him and told him not to do it during the next 2 debates. Just not impressive.

I know that’s a minor point but come on, he’s the President, he’s supposed to make a good impression, be a role model, look like he’s involved not bored or annoyed. W. spoke several times about how hard the troops are working and Kerry spoke of troops he heard were working 36 hour shifts and our President could not stand up straight and not lean for a lousy 90 minutes. I don’t want to hear that he’s tired. I’m pretty sure that Kerry’s been busy too and he’s tired too but he did it. I’ve read that some people don’t think that Kerry “looks” very presidential. Last night he looked much more presidential than the President.

On the verbal side of the debate, I think Kerry had more examples of his points than Bush did. Bush had a few tag lines that he repeated a few too many times for my taste then he didn’t give any examples to back them up. At least in the “Where’s the beef” commercials there were visuals, you could see the huge bun with the tiny patty when Clara said, “Where’s the beef!” His big example was the $87B that the Republican controlled Senate wouldn’t pass and the President previously said he wouldn’t sign. I wish Kerry would say that so we wouldn’t have to hear about that bill again. I’m glad that Kerry brought up how the President started a war without making sure the troops were properly outfitted beforehand. He needs to push that a little harder.

Bush kept repeating sound bites. “Mixed Messages,” “What kind of message does that send the troops?” and my favorite, “Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time.” (Well, yeah, it was the “Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time” Mr. President. Your own advisors said so along with other experts from this country around the world.)

I know they both need some time to formulate an answer but sometimes Bush would just go blank. It made me think of how a computer with a face would look when it crashed. Bush would lean forward and his mouth would open slightly then nothing. Complete nothing. He didn’t move a muscle for a couple of seconds then he would start up again. Are we sure he’s not a robot.

One thing that annoyed me was the camera games. Kerry is a good bit taller that Bush but not on TV! It looked to me that the camera people were trying to keep the top of George’s head level or slightly above John’s. I also noticed that Bush had a little more screen width than Kerry and that the camera seemed to be zoomed in a bit on Bush. I thought it was weird that a smaller man would have a bigger face and shoulders that filled the screen as much or more than the bigger guy. I guess the camera stuff was part of the debate rules I haven’t read.

All-in-all I would say that Kerry won the debate. He didn’t rely on sound bites and repetition. He backed up his statements with examples and evidence and he projected a good presidential image. Bush relied too much on repetition and provided little back up to his statements. I felt his constant drinking (old habit?) showed nervousness. Kerry looked much more relaxed and definitely had better posture.

Now that’s what I thought. Others might see the President’s leaning and slouching as a sign of being comfortable and relaxed. In general, people like sound bites and tag lines. “Where’s the beef!” A goodly chunk of what Bush repeated would fit nicely on a t-shirt and that’s good enough for some. I’m hoping the majority of the country saw what I saw and will vote accordingly.

Next up, the Town Hall style debate. That could be interesting or totally lame. I’m looking forward to some good put them off guard make ‘em think questions. I thought a good number of the questions last night were no-brainers. Both sides should have anticipated all or most of those questions so they were both prepared, except for those senior moments where Bush went blank.

An after the post note: I meant to mention that I watched the debate on C-SPAN. Bush and Kerry were shown on a split screen side by side. I'm not sure how other stations aired it but that's how I came up with the comments about the camera games.

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